Saturday, December 31, 2011

...And a Happy New Year

We here at Eat Well and Prosper wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous new year!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from Wine of the Week

Wishing you lots of wine and good cheer this Christmas!

(The above wine is from Sort This Out, and recommended for use in their mulled wine.  Click here to read all about it.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bubble Up Pizza Casserole

I stumbled upon this recipe and met it with a unique mixture of disgust and desire. Made it vegetarian and took out the store-bought biscuits, plus a few other changes along the way.

Stephanie's Bubble Up Pizza Casserole

  • 1 Tofurkey Meatless Italian Sausage, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c sliced mushrooms (I would have used more, but that's all I had. But they were shiitake! Mmm)
  • 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar Trader Joe’s Fat Free Pizza Sauce (I used almost the entire jar)
  • 1 pizza dough (I'd planned on using homemade, but didn't have any on hand, so I grabbed a pre-made one from Trader Joe's)
  • 1 c Finely Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 375 and grease a 9×13 dish. 
2.  Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan.  Add sausage and brown, then remove/set sausage aside.
3.  Add vegetables (and another splash of oil) to pan and cook until soft, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add spices, spaghetti sauce, and sausage. Mix well and remove from heat.
4.  Coat the bottom of your pan with pizza dough.
5.  Spread half of the sauce mixture over the biscuits. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat layers.
6. Bake for 23-28 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares and ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas cookies

Diet? What diet?

I spent an afternoon in the kitchen watching Christmas flicks and making a mess. I whipped up double batches of chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, pretzels, Oreo bark, and whiskey balls (not pictured).

Snickerdoodles w/ chips
Using the snickerdoodle recipe from this post, I whipped up a double batch of cookies AND added cinnamon chips to really intrigue the tongue with cinnamon flavor.

I made these quite awhile ago for 4th of July and I decided to give them a Christmasy twist. This time I dipped in both melted dark chocolate AND white chocolate chips and topped with red and green sprinkles.

Oreo bark
So easy to make. On a greased cookie sheet, pour melted white chocolate to cover. Then top with crumbled Oreos. Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes, until the chocolate hardens. With a spatula or fork, lift up the chocolate and break into large pieces.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wine of the Week - Bella Cavalli 2008 Pinot Grigio


There's a lot of green on the nose of this wine, mostly celery and grass.  An interesting start.

On the tongue, this wine starts out wanting to be sweet, but quickly hits you with a lot of sourness.  This gives way to a tart aftertaste.  I also noted some tannins, which is rare -- almost non-existent -- on white wines.  But you'll find it here.

Not for everyone, but a good wine if it fits your personal taste.

13.8% alcohol

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thanksgiving potatoes part 2

I saw this recipe for holiday spiced sweet potatoes months ago and new I had to try it for thanksgiving. Here it is, with my adjustments.

5 lbs sweet potatoes
4 Tbsp margarine
6 Tbsp soy milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp nutmeg
sprinkle of ground ginger
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast until fork tender all the way through, about 45-60 minutes. Remove potatoes from the oven and allow to cool before peeling. (The skin should just peel right off with a knife or even your fingers.)
2. Place warm potatoes in a bowl with margarine, soy milk, syrup, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger. Mash until desired consistency. (I like these on the smoother side. If you do, too, use as hand blender.) Serve warm!

(I totally stole that picture from the website, because the potatoes got gobbled up before I could get a photo!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wild Mushroom & 3 Bean Stew

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 package (25 grams) dried, wild mushrooms
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can butter beans*
  • 1 can red beans*
  • 1 can kidney beans*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp herbs de provance
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste

  1. In a stock pot, saute garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Pour broth over the mixture, then add the potatoes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, rinsing and draining beans first.
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.
  5. Remove bay leaves and serve hot!

*Feel free to use your favorite beans if these don't tickle your fancy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Squash - Pear Au Gratin

Based on another scrumptious winter recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but altered to my liking.

1 Butternut squash
1 large red onion, sliced
1 medium pear, thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp parmesan cheese

1. Use the neck of the butternut squash. Peel and slice thinly.
2. Cook onion slices in 1 tbsp butter for 5-10 minutes.
3. Fill bottom of 8x8 baking dish with squash slices. Arrange pear slices on top, then another layer of squash.
4. Cover with cooked onions and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, covered.
5. Combine bread crumbs, bacon, walnuts, cheese, a 3 tbsp melted butter in a bowl. Sprinkle mixture over onions and bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wine of the Week - STO 2008 Suited Merlot


Another great entry from Sort This Out, one of the most consistently reliable wine makers I've ever encountered.  Especially if you like your wines bold, which I do.

The overwhelming cherry scent on the nose carries over into the taste.  Deceptively flat and watery at first, a second wave of flavors come in to liven things up.  You'll taste cinnamon and other spices, as well as a nice smokiness.

13.5% alcohol

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thanksgiving potatoes part 1

This year, I was in charge of potatoes. My mom never made mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but I always think they're the perfect preparation, so I went to town. I followed the basic mashed potatoes recipe in Veganomicon and added a hell of a lot of roasted garlic, plus some chopped chives (both of which are suggestions in the book).

4 pounds yukon gold potatoes
5 T margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 t salt (I used 3, but found it to be a bit salty)
a sprinklin' of black pepper
1/2 - 1 clove of roasted garlic (depending on how crazy you are)
a handful of chopped chives

Cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks (I peeled them, but it's a personal choice), put in a pot with cold/cool water. Boil for 15-20 minutes, until soft enough to mash. Drain the potatoes, reserving some of the water in case you need it. Put the potatoes back in the pot, add margarine, garlic and chives. Mash well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mash again until everything looks and tastes delicious.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Enchiladas

I'm always looking for new ideas to use seasonal vegetables. I realized I hadn't made enchiladas in awhile, and then Bam! It hit me. A seasonal enchilada recipe:

2 large sweet potatoes, chopped
1/4 acorn squash, chopped
1/2 Anaheim pepper, diced
1 cup Frozen corn
Corn tortillas
Cranberry salsa (I love Trader Joe's cranberry & mango salsa)

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and dump in potatoes and squash. Boil until soft.
2. Drain and mash with a fork. Add pepper and corn.
3. Spread a few tablespoons of the salsa along the bottom of a cassarole dish.
4. Heat a small pan. Warm the tortillas on each side for about 30 seconds. Lay a tortilla on top of the salsa in the dish. Fill with a few spoonfuls of the potato mix. Roll up.
5. After all tortillas are rolled, top with a few more spoonfuls of salsa and sprinkle with pepitas.
6. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes more.

A sweet alternative to your regular enchilada!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Soup Mix Review: Southern Sweet Potato

Since the last soup mix I tried from World Market went so well, I gave the Sweet Potato mix a chance. This was a great mixture of sweet and savory. Again, it was quite easy to make and much better tasting than most canned soups. Definitely recommend this if you enjoy sweet potatoes!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wine of the Week - Bella Cavalli 2008 Syrah


This wine starts out with scents of strawberry, honey and cinnamon... which don't necessarily sound like they go together, but I assure you it's a great smell.  The taste is overall fruitiness, very bright and cheerful.  This is a smooth, enjoyable drinking experience.

14.2% alcohol

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My first curry

I'd been craving a coconut milk-based curry for months. Couldn't find a recipe that spoke to me. Then we replaced our broken slow cooker and I opened up my trusty Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker and there it was. While it doesn't taste as authentic as something you'd get at a restaurant, it totally does the trick. We ate it with brown rice.

1 T peanut oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T curry powder
1 t ground coriander
1/4 t cayenne
2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
8 oz green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used frozen)
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (oops, I didn't drain mine!)
2 c veg stock
1/2 c frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 c canned unsweetened coconut milk

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots and onion, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder, coriander and cayenne, stirring to coat.

2. Transfer the vegetable mixture to your slow cooker. Add potatoes, green beans, chickpeas, tomatoes and stock, cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. (I cooked for 8.5 hours because I was started with frozen green beans and garbanzos and that's how long it was until dinner time)

3. Just before serving, stir in peas and coconut milk and season with salt.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fried Stuffing Balls


I didn't realize that I was sent home after Thanksgiving dinner with an entire tray of stuffing, which I'm not a huge fan of. But in the Midwest, we believe that frying anything makes it tasty, so I squished the dressing into balls and pan-fried them. They're quite tasty, though if I were to do it over, I'd make them smaller so they'd be crispier. All in all, a great way to get rid of left-overs!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter pasta

One week during my trip to the farmer's market, it hit me - it's fall. Almost all the stands were loaded with seasonal vegetables - and I totally took advantage. With no real plan, I loaded up my bags and home I went.

1 large spaghetti squash
Chopped into 1/2" pieces:
1/2 large butternut squash
1 yam
1/2 acorn squash
2-3 red beets
1/2 medium fennel, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
Olive oil
Blood orange olive oil (or orange juice mixed with olive oil)
Parmasan cheese

1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place both pieces face down in a large cassarole dish. Fill to 1/2" with water. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on low-medium heat and add squashes, beets, and yam. Cover and heat for 20-30 minutes, mixing occasionally until soft.
3. In another pan, heat a few tablespoons of the orange olive oil and add fennel, garlic, and pecans. Heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
4. Remove spaghetti squash from oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Scoop out pulp and seeds. Using a fork, scrape the inside of one half of the squash - it comes out like spaghetti! Refridgerate the spaghetti from the other half for use another day.
5. Add spaghetti to pan with the fennel mixture. Add a few more tablespoons of the orange olive oil and mix. Sprinkle with a dash of thyme.
6. Serve spaghetti and yam mixture on a plate and top with parmasan cheese.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wine of the Week - STO 2010 "Lady Luck" Chardonnay


This entry from Sort This Out Cellars is an active performer.  While the nose and the mouth are consistent -- green apple, with a hint of dandelion -- a nice sour aftertaste creeps in and embeds itself on your upper palate and the back of your throat.  And it lingers there in a very pleasant, engaging way.

13.5% alcohol

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fried Rice

My first attempt at fried rice. Totally winged it (wung it?). Turned out more like a stir-fry than fried rice, but good nonetheless. If you don't have a soy ginger sauce (I bought mine at Whole Foods), make your own sauce with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and any other asian flavors you'd like (or use a different sauce/marinade). Of course, feel free to switch up the vegetables to your liking.

Ingredients (all measurements are approximate):
2 cups broccoli (I used florets)
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup green beans, cut up
1/2 small onion
(I'd totally meant to use carrots, but forgot)
1/2 block of tofu
Soy ginger sauce
sesame oil
2 cups cooked rice

Press the tofu for 30-60 minutes, then cut it up and toss it with a little of the sauce/marinade. While that's marinating, heat the oil and saute the onion for a few minutes. Then add the rest of the veggies and the tofu. Once all of that is heated through, add the rice and a few tablespoons of sauce and cook until it looks and smells delicious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roasted yellow pepper soup

Another delish recipe hidden in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook:

Ingredients (Makes 3-4 servings)
5 yellow peppers, halved and roasted for 10 minutes and deskinned
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 cloved garlic, chopped
32oz veggie broth
Chives and thyme

1. Bring peppers, onion, garlic, and broth to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
2. Remove peppers and pulse in a food processor until soupy (or use a strong immersion blender). Return to pot. Add chives and thyme and serve.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Soup Mix Review: Creamy Tomato & Red Pepper

I love pretty much any version of tomato soup that I've tried, and this soup mix from World Market was no exception. It was also very easy to make: just add canned tomatoes (or tomato puree, like I did), and a couple other ingredients to the mix and heat. It's nearly as easy as canned tomato soup, but far tastier. The mix even includes croutons, which I found delightful.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wine of the Week - Blackthorn Cider


This is a nice semi-sparkling cider, imported from England and available in the U.S. at a surprisingly great price.  Well worth checking out.

You'll find the expected apple scent on the nose, with maybe a hint of pear.

The taste is breezy, crisp and enjoyable.  Lightly tart apples with no bitterness and just a bit of minerality.  The flavor recedes and leaves you with a semi-dry aftertaste.  Very refreshing.  Ideal for pairing with light meals - fish, chicken, rice, vegetables.

6% alcohol

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Dip

From guest contributor Paula...

Dip ginger snaps or Nilla Wafers in this creamy pumpkin dip for a memorable holiday treat.

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate
In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

My guest loved it! My husband enjoys eating it in a small dish like pudding with whipped cream on top. Use your imagination and have fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Caprese Sandwich

Looking for a quick lunch? Or a side sandwich to a hearty soup? Look no further.
About 5 minutes to assemble, what could be easier?

Tomato slices
Basil pesto spread
Fresh mozzarella
Roll of choice
Fresh basil leaves

Layer all onto the bread in whatever order you like and enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wine of the Week - Carivintas 2007 Petite Syrah


This is a tasty dessert wine from Carivintas - a winery that supports animal shelters and rescue organizations.

As you'd expect from a dessert wine, this petite syrah has a thick, syrupy mouth feel made for slow sipping.  Sugary sweet with a bit of a tart aftertaste.  A great drink, mellow drink for sitting back and relaxing after dinner.

21% alcohol

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cranberry Cream Cheese Pinwheels

From guest contributor Paula...

When entertaining, try this simple and delicious snack. It's so easy, but your guests will think you spent hours working on it. They're great for an appetizer or just a snack. At Christmas, you can use spinach tortillas to make them look more festive.

You'll need:
  • 4 soft flour tortillas
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 2 bunches diced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  1. Mix cream cheese and garlic salt together until well blended. Spread evenly on tops of tortillas.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and onions. Sprinkle evenly over cream cheese spread. Lightly press cranberry/onion mix into cream cheese.
  3. Roll up tortilla. Trim off ends. Cut each tortilla into 10 even pieces using a serrated knife, like you would slice bread. HINT: I chilled my rolled up tortillas before slicing. It made them easier to cut without crushing.
It takes about 15 minutes to make (minus the chilling time). Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stuffed Squash

Another gem from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The author calls it a sidedish, but I think this can completely be considered the main course served with a salad or rice and bean mixture.

Ingredients: (to serve two)
1 medium acorn squash
2 small turnips
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
Cinnamon, nutmeg, salt
1 cup granny smith apple, shredded

1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the muck. Place cut sides down in a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn cut sides up and bake for another 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook turnips and carrots in salted boiling water for 15 minutes until tender, and drain.
3. Carefully scoop out the pulp from each squash half, leaving a thin layer of pulp in the shell. In a large bowl, mash pulp and turnip mix together.
4. Stir in butter, sugar, and a dash of the spices. Fold in apple.
5. Spoon mix into each shell. Bake for 15 minutes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Squash & Apple Soup

Of all the soup recipes I've made up, this is my favorite! :)

1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
2 granny smith apples
2 tomatoes
2 large carrots
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsps vegetable oil or butter
1 lemon
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 can evaporated milk salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup peanut butter
6 cups water or broth
pinch cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
dash cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp basil

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400. Halve and seed the squash. Bake 45 minutes.
  2. While squash is baking, chop the carrots, garlic, tomatoes, and apples (which should be cored).
  3. Saute these ingredients in the oil or butter until the apples are soft. Squeeze the lemon juice over this as it cooks.
  4. When squash is done, scoop out the flesh.
  5. Combine the squash and the sauteed mixture, along with the rest of the ingredients in a stock pot or slow cooker and simmer 30 minutes.
  6. Puree the ingredients with a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches with a food processor or blender.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wine of the Week - STO 2010 "Suited" Sauvignon Blanc


From Sort This Out Cellars, this sauvignon blanc has scents of green apple, pear, and honeydew.  It's perfume-y to the taste; dry on the roof of your mouth, but sweet on the tongue with a light, evaporating aftertaste.  Crisp and enjoyable.  Great for picnics, or a warm afternoon.

13.5% alcohol

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chocolate-Soled Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin cookies

I recently threw together a quick, Halloween-inspired variation on a standard sugar cookie.  This could be used for Thanksgiving as well.  Or just use a different shaped mold and enjoy any time of year.

Make a batch of your favorite sugar cookie recipe and add orange food coloring.  Put the dough in a pumpkin-shaped silicone mold, but leave plenty of room for the chocolate.  Bake the cookies and allow them to cool.  Leave them in the mold.

Melt a bag of chocolate chips in a sauce pot over the stove, being careful not to sear.  Drip the melted chocolate onto the cookies in the mold.  Allow to cool.  Refrigerate if necessary to solidify the chocolate.  Use green or brown icing to represent the stem of the pumpkin.

The result is a very rich, filling dessert.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Snack break - Pumpkin seeds

October is over. Another Halloween has come and gone. What did you do with all those pumpkin seeds? Hopefully you saved them.
Toasted pumpkin seeds are my favorite fall snack. And so easy to make!

1. Rinse off seeds - get rid of all the pumpkin muck.
2. Lay out tin foil on a cookie sheet. Spray with oil.
3. Spread out seeds on foil and let sit overnight to dry out.
4. Once dry (or mostly dry), spray with another coat of oil, and toss with your favorite seasonings. I like my spicy so I use cumin and cayenne.
5. Bake at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Can be served immediately!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wine of the Week - Dearly Beloved 2009


Dearly Beloved is a fun Halloween-themed bottle (or is it Dia de los Muertos?) from Trader Joe's.  It's good and tasty, and plenty affordable.

The nose is full and round, with a bit of earthiness and some spices I couldn't quite distinguish.

It has a good mouthfeel; mellow, easy to drink.  A savory tart aftertaste blossoms slowly (but strongly) after drinking.

Definitely a good buy.  And who wouldn't want that bottle decorating their table on the nights of the thin veil?

13.8% alcohol

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lentils & Rice

I love to cook up a big batch of lentils. They freeze well, so I always have a quick, easy, nutritious meal on hand for my 1-year-old when dinner's not ready on her schedule. I always just wing it, so the measurements of the spices are approximate. This time I decided to add some brown rice so it would be a more complete meal for her without more thought on my part when I'm rushing.

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups brown lentils
1 cup brown rice
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp thyme
sprinkle of black pepper
2 tsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)

Add onion & carrots to a pot on high heat and cook for a few minutes while you gather everything else. Add lentils and rice. Both the lentils and rice cook two parts water to each cup, so for this recipe you'd add 6 cups of water. Add seasoning and mix. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes, until most or all of the water is absorbed. Remove bay leaf before serving.

This meal is tasty even if you are grown!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bobbing for Apples - Apple sauce

Last summer I had tried my first apple sauce recipe. As I was going through some of my cookbooks lately, I found another apple sauce recipe, but the lazy version, which is always a plus in my book. Time to break out the slow cooker!

5 apples of choice, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.)

1. Combine apples and water in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.
2. Add spices and sugar and cook for 30 more minutes.

And serve!
To give it a little kick, replace water with orange juice. Or add orange zest.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wine of the Week - Bellwether Spyglass


A most enjoyable entry from Bellwether's line of ciders. This one has fresh cut grass on the nose. The taste is surprising all throughout: there's a little bit of a bite up front; mellow drinkability in the middle that is actually refreshing in a thirst-quenching sort of way; and a tart, sour apple finish.

This would pair well with any white meat or fish meal, or any non-red sauce pasta dish.

In case you couldn't tell, this is my favorite of the Bellwether ciders so far. I highly recommend it.

6.9% alcohol

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegetable Barley Soup

I asked my husband if he'd like soup this week. He responded "I like soup." But when I showed him various recipes, the feedback I got ranged from the specific ("I don't like tomatoes in my soup") to the vague ("That's not what I had in mind"). Finally he asked for "something with barely in it." Okay, that I can work with. A quick search on (formerly recipezaar) got me to this recipe. He was worried that it wouldn't have enough flavor, but I held strong. In the end, as usual, I was right. You will have leftovers (hooray!), but as the days go by the chunks will melt and the soup will become even creamier. It freezes very well.

4 carrots (1 grated, 3 chopped)
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 potatoes, chopped (I used 4, because they were small and who doesn't love little potato bits in their soup?)
2 sweet potatoes, choped
2 zucchini, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup split peas (I used yellow)
1/2 cup red lentil
dill, to taste
parsley, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Soak split peas until partially soft, or boil
2. Saute onion, garlic and grated carrot (I added some olive oil for this step even though it was not in the ingredients or directions.)
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover with water.
4. Cook for at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

I think it would work with any number of vegetable combinations would work. Next time I'm going to add some cut green beans.

If you have young children, feel free to serve this soup while singing Raffi's "Oats and Beans and Barely Grow."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bobbing for Apples - Apple Rice Salad

Based on a recipe in my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, a delicious sweet and tart sidedish to any meal! And quick and easy to prepare:

Salad Ingredients
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, shelled

2 tbsp basalmic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 clove garlic, diced

1. Combine all the salad ingredients and set aside.
2. In a jar with a lid, combine the dressing ingredients. Close the jar and shake up. Pour over the salad mix and serve!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wine of the Week - AM/FM 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon


I bought this bottle at the same time as last week's cab.  Between the two, I expected to enjoy the AM/FM more; the producer has made some of the best wines I've ever tasted.  Unfortunately, this one was a letdown.

Spicy black cherries on the nose with some strawberry underneath.

On tasting, the first thing that hit me was the alcohol, which is not a good sign.  Combined with dryness and bitterness, the experience was not going well.  There was a very slight strawberry taste in the mid-palate, but it was overwhelmed by a bitter finish.

Wanting to give it a second chance, I chilled the wine overnight.  Chilling it definitely dampers the alcohol taste, but you're still left with something a little too dry and bitter for my liking.

Look, I've had bad wines, and this one isn't bad.  But I can't recommend it, especially knowing what this producer is capable of.

14.5% alcohol

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

My first attempt with these muffins was less-than-perfect. I'd mixed the batter together when I realized I forgot the salt. So tossed that in and mixed it again. Then I realized I'd only put in 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spices, so I added more and mixed again. Over-mixed batter = tough, chewy muffins. But the flavor is great and I really think the second attempt will be perfect.

Weelicious Pumpkin Apple Muffins

1 1/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Pumpkin Spice
3 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Agave OR Honey
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Milk [I used almond milk]
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Medium Apple, peeled and grated (Gala, Pink Lady, Fuji or Golden Delicious are good choices)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and mix.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Grease muffin tins or line them with muffin cups and fill each cup 3/4 full with the batter.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. [Cooking time for mini muffins will be slightly less]
7. Serve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bobbing for Apples - Apple salsa

Who needs tomatoes when you have apples?!

A different take on your traditional salsa, from Sweeter than regular chunky salsa, obviously. Perfect for your fall party!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wine of the Week - Broadside 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon


From Margarita Vineyards comes this excellent cabernet.  Undertones of strawberry on the nose, and also some green vegetables - I was picking up something like lettuce and celery.

On the tongue, it was tart with mostly cherry tastes.  The fantastic, flowering finish leaves behind mellow fruit flavors.  I highly recommend this wine.

14.1% alcohol

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tempeh Tacos

I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner. I wanted something different than our normal bean burritos. Something more... dare I say meaty? Looking through the fridge, I saw a package of tempeh, which I had no specific plans for. Tempeh crumbles up nicely and would make the perfect substitute for traditional taco meat! I found this simple-sounding recipe online and got to it.

Changes made by me: I grated my tempeh in the food processor with the grater blade. I also added a lot more cumin and a sprinkle of chipotle, because I was worried it would be too bland.

Our homemade tacos were topped with a totally improvised pico de gallo - two roughly chopped tomatoes mixed with a little bit of chopped onion and a big handful of fresh cilantro.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bobbing for Apples - Flax and bran muffins

Happy October! To celebrate my favorite autumn month, I'm going to devote my posts to the hearty fall fruit - Apples!

This week, a great breakfast addition (or for breakfast on the go).

A very simple recipe to follow, shared from (But of course I veganized it with more flaxseed instead of eggs.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wine of the Week - Bella Cavalli 2008 Chardonnay


Excellent nose.  You'll detect a whole fruit medley, including grape fruit, kiwi and various melons.

The taste comes through bold and strong, with all the same flavors detected on the nose.  Unfortunately, a bit too much alcohol taste comes through.  But overall, a wine well worth enjoying.

14.3% alcohol

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pizza breadsticks

Because we haven't given our daughter cheese yet, including her in family pizza night has been a challenge. She's too small to really handle a slice and her cheeseless pizzas become bread with a side of mixed vegetables all too quickly. Guess which half of that equation gets ignored. So I made breadsticks with the veggie goodness baked inside and provided some sauce on the side for dipping.

Using my go-to dough recipe (also featured here), I added a bit of each veggie we used to top our pizza (on this day it was onion, spinach and green pepper) and mixed it right into a hunk of dough. Cooked that dough alongside our pizza and let it cool enough for little hands and little mouths.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Decadent Egg Salad

I made this egg salad with cream cheese and mayo instead of just mayo, like in most recipes. That made it much lighter and fluffier and it tasted great!

8 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cream cheese
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. yellow prepared mustard (condiment not the spice)
pinch each of:
garlic powder
dill weed

Chop eggs and mix with mayo and cream cheese.
Mix well, then add the spices and stir until thoroughly blended.
Enjoy on a sandwich or on top of a delicious pile of greens!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Snickering snickerdoodles

One day, out of the blue, though he's a chocolate fanatic,Joe mentioned he'd like some snickerdoodles. Not Steph's Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles which I make pretty regularly now, but basic snickerdoodles.

Luckily, I had all the ingredients on hand, and of course on the hottest day of the summer, I made some cookies:

I found a great recipe from Vegetarian Times. Super easy, and super yummy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wine(s) of the Week - Wife and Bitch

Apparently I can't go anywhere these days without picking up some wine.  While in San Diego over the summer for Comic Con, I passed a place in the Gaslamp District called The Wine Bank and couldn't resist picking up a two-bottle package deal they were selling as "Wife and Bitch."  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for a good marketing gimmick.

I'm happy to report, however, that beyond the marketing gimmick, these were two really good wines.


Bitch 2009 Grenache
Grateful Palate Imports really committed to the whole "bitch" angle.  Check out the "description" on the back label...


There's a funkiness on the nose of this wine, but it doesn't come through on the tongue.  This wine actually tastes very bright, with notes of raspberry and something like rose petals.

14% alcohol

Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon
She doesn't look mad; maybe just a little bored.

This wine has a very mild nose, with light hints of spices coming through.  The taste was surprisingly dynamic, with deep red fruits and overtones of what I'd describe as garden vegetables.  The watery finish goes down easy.

13.5% alcohol

These were both impressive wines, especially for the price point.  And, as I said, a smart pairing on the part of the seller.  San Diego residents, be sure to pick these up next time you're in the Gaslamp. Everyone else, check your local wine store; these are both available nationally.